“The Lord has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:50
We live in a world, and often worship in a Church, that tells us we can only be fruitful when we are successful.
When the marriage is on smooth ground…
When the kids are well-behaved and respectful…
When the job pays well, is enjoyable, and promotions are on the horizon…
When there is money in the bank at the end of the month…
THEN we can be fruitful, declaring God’s praise and showing forth God’s goodness to the world around us.
Can I just say it outright?
Believing we are only fruitful in our seasons of success is an outright lie.
And can I go one step further?
The Bible teaches that, not only can God make us fruitful in our seasons of affliction, but He delights in doing so!
If anyone endured seasons of affliction, it was Joseph. Genesis 37-50 tells us his story. Sold into slavery by some jealous brothers at the tender age of 17, Joseph found himself immersed in an unknown culture and language and reduced from the status of favored son to purchased slave.
After proving himself for ten years as the servant of a government official, Joseph finds himself in prison on false accusations – a sentence that, likely, had no hope of release. After interpreting the dreams of another of Pharaoh’s officials, Joseph pleads for the man to remember him to Pharaoh – only to be forgotten for another two years.
By the time Joseph comes to power under Pharaoh, thirteen years have passed. Thirteen wasted years, we would be tempted to say. His late adolescence and all of his 20s – gone, languished in the pit, slavery, and the dungeon.
Joseph saw his plight much differently: the years were not forgotten years, but fruitful years. God had allowed Joseph to be fruitful – even in the land of his affliction.
And God can do the same for you and I.
Are you facing a “land of affliction” today?
Maybe it is a health crisis that is keeping you from doing what you love.
Maybe it is a financial hardship that is keeping your dreams at bay.
Maybe it is a dead-end job that is sucking the life and hope out of your spirit.
Whatever it is – don’t despair! God can make you fruitful right where you are.
How? By allowing His Presence to dwell with you in that moment of affliction.
Over and over in Joseph’s story we read the beautiful line, “The Lord was with Joseph.”
In the pit – the house of Potiphar – the prison – and the palace. God always went with Joseph.
And where God went, His Presence went. And where His Presence went, His fruit followed.
Joseph lived in a way that allowed God to dwell with Him.
Likewise, if you and I conduct ourselves wisely and live lives of holiness and integrity, even in the difficult times, God can, and will, allow his Presence to dwell with us.
Making us fruitful in the desert – for His glory and our good.
Be encouraged today, wherever you find yourself.
Don’t give up.
Bear much fruit.
Grow where you’re planted.
God hasn’t given up on your fruitfulness.
Neither should you.
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.” John 15:8